John explains the tortuous route the paperback took to publication over at Do Some Damage; meanwhile, here’s the review I wrote, which somehow ended up, in its entirety, on the inside flap of the Canadian hardback edition of EKTIN, which was also nice. If you’re looking to pamper yourself this Christmas, reading-wise, then pick it up, and then DIRTY SWEET and SWAP too. Trust me, you’ll love yourself for it.
Easy now. This is the good stuff. Too much and you’ll be reeling around the room, blissed on the possibility of how good John McFetridge might get. Set in Toronto, EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE features an ensemble cast from both sides of the law, most of them spokes radiating out from Sharon, a single mother operating a low-level dope-growing operation. Gangs of Italians, South Asians and Angels, all grafting for a heavier slice of Toronto’s new prosperity; a Native American cop and his recently widowed partner investigating an apparent suicide while sitting on the powder keg of an internal affairs probe about to blow the Toronto force apart; Ray, a new face on the scene with an offer Sharon can’t refuse; Richard, the old flame now a power broker in the world of Canadian crime. A heady brew, but McFetridge marshals all the elements in a fluid tale that weaves in and out of various narratives in a manner akin to Elmore Leonard with a brevity of delivery that is almost an abbreviated form of style: “Canada, so generous to take them in. Thran’s father and his two uncles looking like scared refugees in front of the nice white people, got right to business doing exactly what they’d done back home. Pretty soon they had a nice little distribution network up and running. Didn’t even have to kill that many people.” But it’s the backdrop that makes the story. Toronto, much like the novel itself, is rapaciously ambitious, swaggeringly assured, brash beneath its cultured veneer, ripe with opportunity and tottering on the brink of anarchy. Sharon, her city and her country are in a state of flux that mirrors the ever-changing and ever-challenging nature of criminality itself, which the crime novel by necessity mirrors in its turn. For those with eyes to see, EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE is a shining moment of clarity in our confused grasping after some purpose in the chaos. – Declan Burke